Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office Minister, has pledged that the Conservative party will listen to the concerns of environmental and conservation groups, such as the ourselves, at the Conservative Party Conference. Speaking at a debate he said that he welcomed “constructive” discussions on the framework. This follows a series of similar statements by Ministers from across the Conservative party, all of whom have promised to discuss changes that are being proposed by groups campaigning against the NPPF.
In a Daily Telegraph debate on the Government’s draft National Planning Policy Framework, Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister, welcomed “constructive” discussions on the framework. He also pledged to look at changes that have been proposed by campaigners, notably extra protection for sites of special scientific interest.
The Daily Mail Online today exposed those Ministers that are for development and construction, just not in their own back yard. Amongst the culprits were Francis Maude, Eric Pickles, Bob Neill, and yes, even Greg Clark.
The article went on say that “Given their unbounded enthusiasm for development, you’d think Coalition ministers would be all for building developments in their own constituencies. Well, actually no. For it emerges that several ministers involved with this controversial change in regulations have opposed projects in their own area. It’s a roll call of jaw-dropping hypocrisy.”
Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Greg Clark admitted that “there is no charity, no campaign, no concerned citizen who feels more strongly about cherishing our countryside than we do.”
He went on to make a number of concessions to the National Trust, which we have welcomed, over planning reforms:
“So of course, we’ll make use of brownfield land before greenfield land; we’ll insist on excellent design not legotowns; and we’ll make sure that planning decisions are taken by local people who know and love where they live not by those regional bureaucracies or visiting inspectors.”
These changes are welcomed by us, but we will not stop campaigning till we see the changes we think are necessary to protect the countryside put into the NPPF.